John served as the founding Chair of Shift from 2011 to 2021. He was the Berthold Beitz Research Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He also taught at the Berkeley and San Diego campuses of the University of California, and at Columbia University where he became Dean of the School of International and Public Affairs. From 1997-2001 John served as UN Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning in the cabinet of Kofi Annan; from 2002-2005 as Special Advisor to the Secretary-General for the Global Compact; and from 2005-2011 as Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Business and Human Rights.
A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, he received numerous awards from academic and professional societies for his contributions to social science, public policy and the development of international law. In addition to serving as Shift’s Board Chairman, John was also on the Board of Arabesque Asset Management Holding Company as well as Unilever’s Sustainability Advisory Council. His book, Just Business: Multinational Corporations and Human Rights, has been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.